Thursday, February 03, 2011
In NDPR, Dimitri Ginev reviews Don Ihde's Heidegger's Technologies: Postphenomenological Perspectives.
[A]ccording to Ihde, Heidegger's philosophy of technology is burdened by a (post)metaphysical essentialism that excludes concrete, empirical studies of actual technologies. Doubtless, one can single out an impressive number of technologies that do not fit the mode of revealing that Heidegger ascribes to modern technology. Ihde's favored example is musical instruments, which do not fit into the standing-reserve/enframing scheme. But his criticism goes much further. In a nice summary, he contends that the search for the essence of technology is necessarily a reductionist turn: the growing proliferation of technologies of different types is submitted to an analysis based on a universal essentialist schematic. The fact that we are increasingly living in a "postindustrial technological landscape" makes Heidegger's critique basically irrelevant to the status quo. His portrait of the essence of technology can hardly be imposed on the contemporary electronic and knowledge-based technological world. Heidegger's depiction of the way in which modern technology reveals cannot be extrapolated to cover bio-, nano-, and info-technologies. There are many technologies, but no essence of technology. Presumably, the qualitative distinctiveness of the technoscience technologies (developed or implemented after the mid-1970s) as compared with the earlier industrial technologies restricts the validity of the main claims of Heidegger's philosophy of technology. Ihde recapitulates his criticism by stressing that Heidegger does remain in the halls of the "mighty dead" twentieth-century philosophers, but not with respect to the philosophy of technology.
Heidegger is not an observer of these and those technologies. He has something to say about technicity, but he's not a philosopher of technology. He used technology as illustrative of his early and late breakthroughs. The technology of the hammer in the workshop, and the technology of mass mobilisation. The audience for "The Question Concerning Technology" had just been through total war, and so easily understood the notion of everything being a resource for the machine.
"He has something to say about technicity, but he's not a philosopher of technology."

Currently I strongly lean toward describing MH as having developed a new theory of truth--the truth of beyng as the being of truth. With all due regard for Idhe, my expectation is that work is currently underway applying that theory of truth to technoscience technology.
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